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Central Victoria pulls out a real corker

SHIRAZ has become so popular within the Australian wine market that we have come to believe the variety is part of our heritage - as quintessentially Australian as Vegemite and koalas. With the number of medals, trophies and accolades our shiraz has received world- wide it is a pretty fair assumption.

But we all know that it’s not true, yet not only do we promote the myth, we even let Coonawarra and Barossa take the accolades as the piece de resistance for our home-grown product.

Therefore, it was with some joy that I found a hidden gem from Seppelts premium vineyard sites in Central Victoria.

The Seppelt chalambar shiraz 1998 is simply an absolute humdinger and can stand alongside anything that has come out of the acclaimed vintage of that year.

It was first created by one of Australia’s shiraz gurus, Colin Preece, in the 1950s under the name Seppelt chalambar burgundy. In those days it was one of the more sought after labels in the Australian wine industry.

Chalambar disappeared during the 70s for one reason or another and was given a new lease of life during the 90s by Ian McKenzie, one of today’s winemaking legends.

You should not be surprised that Central Victoria can pull out such a corker. The Chalambar is blended from fruit grown in the well-known Great Western, Strathbogie ranges and Ovens Valley regions.

And what about Australia’s claim to the shiraz crown? Actually, the variety heralds from the town of Shiraz in Iran. There is some conjecture as to how shiraz made its way over to France to the small town of Tain, probably by way of the Phoenicians. However it reached there, vines flourished in the Rhone Valley region in France, which is now synonymous with shiraz. Shiraz is now grown all over the world and the wines are variously known as syrah, sirah, hermitage, balsamina and, of course, shiraz.

Having said that, shiraz has been in Australia since the days of the early pioneers, arriving on the sunny shores of Sydney with pioneering wine guru James Busby around the 1840s. Its popularity with the Australian public has grown from the days when shiraz was unknown as such, often being disguised as dry red, claret, hermitage or burgundy, to today where it is branded as shiraz and commands a premium price tag. With the worldwide success of Penfolds’ Grange leading the way, it is recognised as one of our best wine varietals and Australian shiraz has come to rival its old-world French cousins.

Seppelt chalambar shiraz 1998

rrp $21.99

Beware! Opening a bottle of this will bring out your very selfish side. Once you have delved into the pool of Shiraz awaiting you, you will be closing all doors and sending your guests home. As the aromas are released you are engulfed by a wave of intense sweet dark chocolate, black cherry, and leather characters, which simply compel you to dive into the palate, leaving you adrift wanting more.

Silky and supple with excellent oak handling, integrated tannins and intense fruit weight, this wine will live for another youthful 10 years or more. As Molly Meldrum would say, “Do yourself a favour!”

90/100 Points Available through Southcorp Wines 9376 6111

Other new releases to look out for are the exciting Penfold’s Bin Range wines from the acclaimed 1998 vintage, which I will look at next week.

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